Elden Ring: Who are Miquella and Messmer? Shadow of the Erdtree characters explained

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

After an agonizing year-long wait since it was revealed in early 2023, Elden Ring's highly anticipated Shadow of the Erdtree DLC has finally gotten an official gameplay trailer (watch it here). The three-minute preview confirmed that players will be visiting the mysterious Land of Shadow in the expansion, and also prominently featured two characters: Miquella and Messmer the Impaler.

You may recognize the name of the former if you followed Elden Ring's lore and narrative while playing through the base game, but the latter is a new face that we officially know very little about. There are, however, some notable elements of his design that hint at who he may be and where he might fit in the game's wider story.

Ahead of the DLC's release on June 21, 2024, I've put together a complete overview of everything you need to know about Miquella — and everything there is to know about Messmer — below. With this knowledge, you'll be able to head into Shadow of the Erdtree with a solid understanding of who you'll be dealing with.

Who is Miquella in Elden Ring?

Miquella riding a spectral steed similar to Torrent in Shadow of the Erdtree promotional artwork. (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

The new Elden Ring story told in Shadow of the Erdtree will primarily revolve around Miquella, but he himself isn't new. In fact, he's an incredibly important character in the game's lore, and while he doesn't make a major appearance or get mentioned much in dialogue in the vanilla game, his past actions shaped several of the areas you can explore during Elden Ring's endgame.

Miquella is the son of Queen Marika the Eternal — a vessel for the world-shaping Elden Ring and the Greater Will, the god of the Golden Order — and her second King Consort, Radagon. He's also the brother of Malenia, who you probably remember as the hardest boss in the game and one that required quite an adventure off the beaten path to find. Notably, lore entries often say Miquella is loved by many, and the Bewitching Branch's item description reveals that "he has the ability to compel affection from others."

Miquella and Malenia are both Empyreans, which are people born with the ability to eventually ascend into godhood. However, they were also born afflicted, with Miquella cursed to remain forever young and Malenia plagued with the sickness of the Scarlet Rot. The two of them quickly became very close, with Malenia swearing to protect Miquella while he tirelessly worked to find a way to cure both of their afflictions.

Malenia, Miquella's sister, sworn protector, and the Goddess of Rot. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Eventually, Miquella would turn away from Radagon's Golden Order Fundamentalism, as the magic of this scholarly approach towards understanding the Greater Will was unable to cleanse his and Malenia's curse. Instead, he adopted what seems to be a "purer" type of faith that led to the development of unalloyed gold. Miquella then fashioned this gold into needles that could effectively block the influence of outer gods such as the one behind Malenia's Scarlet Rot.

Soon after, Miquella desired to create a new Erdtree separate from the Golden Order's, and began to "water" a sapling with his Empyrean blood. This sapling grew to a colossal size above and around the fortress of Elphael and became known as the Haligtree, and though it never became the second Erdtree Miquella hoped it would, it did become a safe haven for peoples and creatures that were often discriminated against throughout the rest of the Lands Between, such as the Albinaurics and the Misbegotten.

Miquella then embedded himself in a special cocoon within the Haligree in the hopes that it would allow him to age. Soon after, though, Queen Marika — enraged by the assassination of another of her sons, Godwyn, with a shard of the Elden Ring's Rune of Death — chose to break the Elden Ring, leading to the wars of The Shattering in which all of Marika's and Radagon's children fought over its fragments. Malenia took her armies into Caelid and battled Starscourge Radahn, the son of Radagon and Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon (he was with Rennala before becoming Marika's consort) in a vicious conflict that ultimately ended in stalemate.

Miquella's cocoon in Elden Ring. You'll access the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC by touching his "withered arm." (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

While Malenia and her forces were absent from the Haligtree, Mohg — the Omen son of Marika and her first King Consort, Godfrey, and also a servant of a blood magic outer god called the Formless Mother — infiltrated it and kidnapped Miquella by taking his cocoon deep underground. Mohg aimed to propel Miquella to godhood, become his consort, and begin a dynasty for the Formless Mother, but despite numerous attempts to coat Miquella's cocoon in offerings of blood, he was unable to rouse the Empyrean.

That brings us to the current situation: players can travel to Mohgwyn Palace and defeat Mohg, and there, they'll find Miquella's cocoon, with only his "withered arm" emerging from its shell. Touching this arm is how players will begin Shadow of the Erdtree and follow Miquella to the Land of Shadow, which he travels to before the events of the DLC.

It's not clear what will happen now that Miquella is apparently free of his cocoon, but it's not likely to be anything good. It's suggested that "there is nothing more terrifying" than the way Miquella "wields love to shrive clean the hearts of men" in the new trailer, and in the base game, the NPC Sir Gideon Ofnir has this to say when you speak with him after slaying Mohg:

"If he continues his slumber within the cocoon, all will be well. But perhaps it would be safer to destroy it. Miquella is the one thing that remains a mystery to me..."

Who is Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring?

Players will fight Messmer in a boss encounter during the expansion. (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

There's your history lesson on Miquella, but what about Messmer the Impaler? This sinister, rather unsettling warrior is draped in red cloth, has a wing and two snakes coming off his body, and seems to be quite proficient with fire magic. The trailer all-but-confirms that he'll be one of Shadow of the Erdtree's main antagonists, and the official site for Shadow of the Erdtree includes mention of him in the following description:

"The Land of Shadow. A place obscured by the Erdtree. Where the goddess Marika first set foot. A land purged in an unsung battle. Set ablaze by Messmer’s flame. It was to this land that Miquella departed. Divesting himself of his flesh, his strength, his lineage. Of all things Golden. And now Miquella awaits the return of his promised Lord."

Ultimately, there's not much to go on here at a glance. However, Messmer's crimson hair does suggest that he may be a son to Radagon, as all of his children with both Rennala and Marika have his hair color (Ranni controls a doll during the events of the vanilla game) and nobody else does other than the now-extinct Fire Giants and Millicent and her sisters, who are Malenia's daughters.

He's also heard saying "Mother...wouldst thou truly lordship sanction in one so bereft of light?" in the trailer, which I suspect is a question directed towards Queen Marika.

So, while there's no hard evidence of this, there's good reason to believe that Messmer is a third child of Marika and Radagon's — perhaps one that was banished or exiled to the Land of Shadow for a reason we're yet unaware of. Maybe Miquella has come to this land to help his long-lost brother, or to seek an alliance with him as part of his plans.

Elden Ring is one of the best Xbox games and best PC games of all time, and I strongly recommend picking it up and beginning a playthrough now if you haven't done one already. That way, you'll have plenty of time to experience all of what 2022's Game of the Year has to offer before the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC launches on June 21. Notably, the expansion is available to preorder on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and Windows PC now, and there's even a Collector's Edition with several awesome collectibles included.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree | $39.99 at Xbox (Digital)

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree | <a href="https://click.linksynergy.com/deeplink?id=kXQk6%2AivFEQ&mid=24542&u1=hawk-custom-tracking&murl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.xbox.com%2Fen-us%2Fgames%2Fstore%2Felden-ring-shadow-of-the-erdtree-pre-order%2F9n5p5sc2rz7k" data-link-merchant="xbox.com"">$39.99 at Xbox (Digital)

Elden Ring's upcoming Shadow of the Erdtree DLC will take players to the dark and mysterious realm of the Land of Shadow, tasking them to follow in Miquella's footsteps and discover what he's doing there. Get ready for a new map, new bosses, new dungeons, and more.

Also at: <a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/2778580/ELDEN_RING_Shadow_of_the_Erdtree/" data-link-merchant="store.steampowered.com"" data-link-merchant="xbox.com"">Steam ($39.99, PC, Digital)

Collector's Edition: <a href="https://store.bandainamcoent.eu/elden-ring-physical-full-game-ps5-shadow-of-the-erdtree-collector-edition/" data-link-merchant="store.bandainamcoent.eu"" data-link-merchant="store.steampowered.com"" data-link-merchant="xbox.com"">Bandai Namco Store (€249.99)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.